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The second day of Affiliate Summit East 2010 started with a great keynote speech by Frank Luntz, a well known political consultant (according to Wikipedia it’s actually Dr. Frank Luntz). Frank’s specialty is “testing language and finding words that help his clients sell their product or turn public opinion on an issue or a candidate”

 
Frank wrote a book called Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear (yes, this is an affiliate link :) ) and his talk was very much about the same topic. Specifically, how people say one thing, but the words they use harm, even completely sabotage their goal. He suggested using certain words that in this day and age evoke responses. Put simply, by merely rephrasing what you say you can make a world of difference! Frank showed many videos that demonstrated how people become more attentive or tune off when certain words are used.

 

 

I thought Frank’s talk was very insightful and some of the tips he gave can be immediately applied (or perhaps I should say “fiercely insightful” – he said that “very” no longer means anything because it’s been so overused, and gave ‘fiercely’ as an example used by one political candidate to replace ‘very’).

 
Using Social Media For SEO
After the keynote speech I went to this talk. I was particularly interested in this considering much of what I do is social media. The focus of this talk was on leveraging social media platforms and users to get backlinks (the building blocks of SEO).

 

Several useful tips:

  1. Build links to your site using Twitter, Facebook, etc (I share a list of the platforms he gave below).
  2. Incentivize people to tweet your link (for example, give them a special discount)
  3. When using forums, people an opportunity to tweet about the post with a link to your website.

The speaker said that there is evidence that in the near future Google will determine how important/authoritative a profile is (for example, using follower/following ratio) and assign a greater weight to links tweeted from that account. Note that as far as I know, to a very limited degree this is already happening.

 
Surprisingly, a few things which I experienced firsthand and expected to be in this talk were not mentioned. Huh. Maybe I should suggest a talk about these for Affiliate Summit West?

 
Social Media link building opportunities

  1. Youtube: one way DoFollow
  2. Google profile: one way DoFollow
  3. Yahoo answers: NoFollow links. (though these could still bring traffic).
  4. Facebook profile: one way DoFollow as long as the profile is public (this was the only thing that surprised me – need to check).
  5. Urbanspoon, Yelp, etc – most are followed

 
Afterwards I went to a talk titled “Android Affiliate Mobile Marketing” which was so good I intend to dedicate a separate post to it. This session focused on using Google Android phones for advertising/promoting CPA offers, etc. More soon.

 
Similarly, the next talk I went to “Crowdsource Your Success” is worthy of a separate post. I didn’t expect to learn anything new (isn’t Crowdsourcing only 99designs?) but was very fiercely surprised.

 

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Unlike previous affiliate summits I attended, this time I had to skip all after hours activities – I was moving to a new apartment two days after ASE ended and had to pack (… and if you’re interested in hearing how that went, check out this post. Spoiler: there’s criminals, police and ransom. For real.)

 
I figured: since I’m doing less networking, I might as well focus more on the sessions. And so, I attended more sessions and have taken more notes than any other affiliate summit – and probably any other conference I’ve been to in the last several years. Perhaps because of this the summit, to me, felt completely different than any of the others (more educational?). Consequently, in this coverage of the event I’ll focus much more on sessions summaries than I did last year. I’ll also probably dedicate individual posts to some particularly interesting sessions.

 
Affiliate summit East 2010 started with the Meet Market. The Meet Market is a great place to meet vendors, networks, other affiliates and old friends. Not to mention getting some free stuff. It’s always a fantastic way to start the conference since the dynamic atmosphere gets everyone in the mood for networking.

 

 

Interestingly, two sessions I attended during the first day had a common theme – trying to look into the future of affiliate marketing and see how we can prepare for it (regardless of the sessions’ titles).

 

 
Innovate! New Exciting Applications of Affiliate Marketing
This was a pretty interesting session. It started with the history of affiliate marketing. Did you know that the first affiliate offer originated in the adult industry back in 1994? Specifically, by a company called CyberErotica? I guess this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Amazon came next in 1996.

 
The session focused on trends and the future of affiliate marketing, something which every one of us who intends to be in the business a few years from now should find valuable. Some interesting projections:

 
In 2008 the affiliate “Ubiquity era” started and is expected to last until 2013. During this time we can expect

  • Recognizable affiliate consumer brands (already happened).
  • Major brands have affiliate programs – 20,000 affiliate programs in 2010! (already happened).
  • Crowdsourcing becoming increasingly hot (happening now).
  • New ways to ‘mashup’ datafeeds with apps to create user value.
  • New automatic storefronts (i.e. PopShops).
  • New automatic ways to link affiliate offers to content. SkimLinks links keywords to affiliate offers and is geo-targeted, too. Pixazza associates products right with the image source – this means that if a user views an image, he sees relevant affiliate offers (i.e. if the image is of a person wearing sunglasses, links to the sunglasses, other items shown, even the camera type, would appear).

 
After 2013, the “Affilination Era” will begin and will be characterized by

  • Social media dominance: the activity stream will be affiliated (i.e. Foursquare links to physical products).
  • Microaffiliates: everyone can be an affiliate and get tiny commissions (the example given was that of people referring other people to Domino’s Pizza and getting commissions).
  • Micropayments become increasingly common (as a side note, I attended a talk about a year ago by a company that intends to offer ways to do micropayments which would be integrated with Twitter. A lot of potential there).
  • Microtrends: we could find hot product sales by the hour or day.
  • Pre-purchase click data: we’ll have data about the products that are viewed before they are purchased. Which are the most popular?

 
New Lead Generation Models: Social-Mobile-Viral
This session provided a good followup to the previous one by suggesting that the future of marketing won’t be characterized by selling pain (trying to sell by appealing to emotions such as fear or pain – scaring the target audience) but rather by selling pleasure.

 
Several examples were given such as Facebook games: people stay on the site because they enjoy it, and we would have better success by satisfying this need. Another example given was LibraryThing – a social network of people who like talking about books: people stay on this site because they enjoy it, and it brought significant revenue to the creators by affiliating the site with Amazon.

 
The speaker suggested that that the best way of ‘going viral’ would be to stop doing hype and treat people as people: “People aren’t eyeballs – they’re friends”.

 
An additional observation was – unsurprisingly – that the world is currently shifting from desktops to mobile phones. Since everything in mobile is smaller and people are on the move, we have to take that into consideration when marketing using this channel. Smaller banners, shorter ads, shorter emails. Basically reformat everything so that it may fit with an audience that isn’t necessarily at home next to a personal computer.

 

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What's next?

 

I’ve been doing internet marketing for quite a while, and I can say, I’ve never seen an industry that changes so quickly. Every month there is something new, every month brings a big – sometimes a game changer – event.

 
Unsurprisingly, there is always a wave of internet marketers, product creators, that attempt to benefit from it. Although many marketers create products that genuinely provide value, there are the others who just create something, often without any meaningful understanding of the topic, in order to benefit from the wake of the fad.

 
What both frustrates and excites me is that these changes tend to affect the behavior of online marketers, and in turn, this usually affects the market itself… which affects marketers once again. This is probably why these new fads emerge in the first place. (Ok, I don’t want to lose you now, but this actually relates to my Ph.D. thesis which dealt with interactions that take place between various levels of complex systems… in this case, the market is a hierarchical complex system. But never mind..)

 
Forgive me if I got the time-frames slightly wrong.

 
In October 2009 it was all about PPV (CPV – cost per view) advertising. I don’t know how many courses and products were released in a short span. The result? Not only a large number of people started doing PPV advertising, but also, the biggest PPV network, TrafficVance, became extremely selective about accepting new advertisers, despite the fact its policies already required that new advertisers bring 2 referrals (!) and a minimum of a $1,000 deposit. It’s funny when one thinks about it: they’re literally saying no to advertisers who are willing to pay at least a $1,000. It’s been a while since then: as far I know they are not as strict anymore.

 
Then in December 2009 it was all about site flipping. In the span of three weeks I must’ve seen or heard of at least five products, each suggesting people build quick sites and flip them for a quick buck. I’m sure this could work, but not after releasing all these products… there’s a limit as to how many people can sell sites simultaneously, after all, the number of buyers did not change. Supply and demand and all that.

 
In January 2010 it was Facebook advertising. I don’t remember the exact phrases used but “Facebook loves affiliates” and “a goldmine” got stuck in my head. This resulted in many people trying Facebook advertising, and not long afterwards (April 2010), Facebook coming down with very, very strict guidelines that effectively eliminate most affiliate products from its network.

 
In February-March 2010 it was all about mobile. Mobile advertising. Mobile sites. Pay per call courses. A few courses created by very big marketers in a short span of time. Now, I don’t think mobile is a fad. I think mobile will just get bigger. But it was interesting that these were released at such a close proximity.

 
April-May 2010 were the months of local advertising. I saw several classes touting that “these are the biggest markets left unexplored” or so. Some of these classes seemed like the real deal, but others seemed almost like a scam (at least in one case, I’m pretty sure it IS a scam). What’s going to happen as a reaction to that? I don’t know. I guess we’ll find out very soon.

 
Don’t get me wrong, I’m guilty of trying some of these as well. I’m not trying to say “look at these idiots, trying one fad after the other” since often I was once of “these idiots” ;-) . I’m also not trying to say that none of these forms of advertising worked. In fact, I believe all of them worked prior to the release of the courses/products… by then the market had reacted and it became considerably harder, and at times, impossible, to benefit from the lessons taught.

 
While I love these dynamics, it’s virtually impossible to predict what will be next. What will be “the next big thing” in June? August? October? I don’t know. From an intellectual perspective I am really curious, though I know that whatever is promoted then, now is probably a good time to do it because by the time we hear of it, it will most likely be too late.

 
Edit: by the way, any guesses? Obviously Plenty of Fish (POF) is becoming increasingly popular as well as other traffic methods. I’m curious what you think.

 

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Social Media 201


 
Before I begin, I’ll diverge a tiny bit: Years ago I used to get quite nervous when I had to do any form of public speaking. While I can’t say this is second nature to me even now, a simple advice given to me by my Ph.D. adviser has really made a big difference. His advice was very (very) simple: “try to enjoy it”. After years of public speaking, I can say: it’s true.

 
I give the same advice to people who are interviewing for jobs. It might sound a bit surprising, but when I used to interview for positions myself (before becoming self employed) 95% of the time I genuinely enjoyed my job interviews – after all, it gives an opportunity to speak about myself and my accomplishments – so what’s not to like? Probably as a result, I used to be very good at job interviews. I believe the same kind of logic applies for public speaking. When one talks about a subject he or she is an expert about and likes it, the passion comes through and people get it.

 
Ok, back on track. Social Media 201: What a blast! Hard to summarize these three+ intense days.

 
This conference originated from the mastermind calls of a group I’m a member of. We have weekly calls, though since we work on joint projects, sometimes we form subgroups and talk twice or even three times a week. We’re a pretty big group and we’re spread out all over the US. As you may imagine, speaking so often with a group of people whom you share both your professional and technical experiences as well as personal lives brought us together, and we have all become close friends even though most of us have never met in person.

 

From left to right: Bille Baty, Darren Williger, Udi Schlessinger (me), Mike Whitmore and Eric Weaver

From left to right: Bille Baty, Darren Williger, Udi Schlessinger (me), Mike Whitmore and Eric Weaver



 
Social Media 201 included several of us: myself, Darren Williger, Bille Baty and Mike Whitmore, who co-organized the event with Joe Kennedy. It was more than exciting to finally meet my close friends in person – and in fact, it felt like we already know each other. Even “fate” made it more excited: Mike picked me and Bille, we came out of the elevator exactly when Joe and Darren came out of another elevator… the timing could not have been better.

 
So, to me, and I believe everyone else, the speakers dinner on the first day was fantastic. Even though the food was great, it was the company that really mattered.

 
The next day we rented a recording studio. Our goal was to create professional videos that can be used in group projects as well as by each of us for his/her own products. Since I’ve never been in a professional studio (green screen and all), and in fact, kind of avoid doing videos since I never like the way I come off, to me this was a very new experience. However, this was a LOT of fun.

 
A professional recording studio

A professional recording studio



 
Darren and me

Darren and me



 
Darren and Kris talk about dating (in Social Media!)

Darren and Kris talk about dating (in Social Media!)



 
We took turns interviewing each other. Not sure which background I want for my interview with Darren – which was as serious as we get (we never get serious!) – perhaps the Matrix’s scrolling green code. Trust me, it’ll fit well with what we discussed (the future of advertising in the context of the increase in mobile devices: Smartphones, iPads, etc).

 
Social Media 201 at Microsoft Headquarters

Social Media 201 at Microsoft Headquarters



 
The next day was the main event: Social Media 201. The conference was sponsored by Microsoft and Comcast in addition to several other companies, and took place at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond. Since I’ve known Microsoft and used their products since the mid 80s, it was exhilarating visiting MS HQ. I certainly hope it’s not the last time!

 
The conference itself was superb. Obviously, the main theme was social media and how small to medium businesses can leverage it to their advantage, and do so correctly. Eric Weaver gave a fantastic keynote speech. Jeff Dance, Kris Ruby and Bille Baty shared their expertise on various aspects of this process. Darren Williger gave an amazing keynote speech about the future of social media (check out the site he made for this topic).

 
My talk about SEO for Small Businesses

My talk about SEO for Small Businesses


My talk was about SEO for small businesses: how small businesses can improve their positioning on all search engines. Although this is not exactly Social Media, considering the target audience, we felt this fit right in – and in fact, someone tweeted at some point “how come no one mentioned SEO so far? – only to have me talk afterwards.

 
I think it went very well: many people approached me during the break, quoted me in tweets, and sent email to let me know they liked it. In addition, I really enjoyed giving my talk, which might be a reason why it went so well. My favorite tweet about my talk was “Dude’s hip hop” – since I used the phrase “it’s all about the Benjamins” as a reference to getting more business :)

 
SeattleWineGal and Kris

SeattleWineGal and Kris


After this was done, we went to a tweetup organized by SeattleWineGal, Seattle’s female answer to Gary V :) This was great, and I got to meet a lot of great people.

 
And then it was all done. After a few days of bonding with good friends who became much closer in this time, I have to say I was quite sad to say goodbye. Darren Williger is a walking, amazingly funny, personification of energy. Bille Baty is a legend – just being next to him makes a person wiser. I didn’t know Kris Ruby until before but she’s fun, smart – and our group will be much enhanced by her joining.

 
This may sound a bit melodramatic, but that’s how it feels. Fantastic 3 1/2 days.

 
Here are a number of websites and blogs that mentioned Social Media 201. It got rave reviews!

http://www.techflash.com/seattle/2010/04/guest_post_social_media_201.html

http://seattledesigner.blogspot.com/2010/04/business-card-is-still-currency-in.html

http://eco-maven.com/2010/04/20/a-social-media-freshman-in-the-sophomore-trenches%E2%80%A6-sm201-conference/

 

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